??? about doodlebugs.....

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by ozzy, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok i am planing a small N scall layout with a doodlebug. but i dont know anything about doodlebugs,

    what years was they used the most?

    i plan on having it go from town to town then back how would they turn a doodlebug? or did they run them in reverse for the return trip?

    and did they run on the main line or did they have a track all of there own?
  2. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    I can't recall ever seeing a double ended Doodlebug (Gas Electric Railcar), although some may have been built. Also, they sometimes pulled trailer coaches, so I would think they were generally turned on a loop, wye, or turntable, perhaps backing until they got to the closest available place. They were steam era equipment, and so turning facilities would have usually been available, and they would have been designed with that in mind. Check these pages, and see if they have or can lead to more information:



    Doodlebugs generally ran on branch lines. They would not have had their own tracks.

    Depending on the era of your layout, you might want to have a RDC (Rail Diesel Car) instead. Some, if not all RDCs were bidirectional.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Self propelled cars are very cool...! You might look up Canadian National information on doodlebugs - they had all kinds of self-propelled cars, no two alike ;) :D

    I have a doodlebug (Bachmann Spectrum) and also a Mack Railbus. Both were steam era answers to dwindling branchline passenger numbers, partly to blame on the rise of the automobile and better roads.

    I do not know the specifics of the crews on the doodlebug, but I do not imagine that they ran them in reverse very far. They were also capable of pulling one or maybe two cars as well, so you would have occasionally seen one with a boxcar in tow for lcl or express (??)service.

    As noted above, they did not run on their own tracks - they were scheduled passenger service. On the main, there theoretically would have been enough passengers (or mail revenue) to allow full passenger service to operate.

    The RDCs were basically post-WW2 versions of the doodlebug.

    Torpedo - good links! :thumb:

    Hope that helps.

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    "Dayliner" was CPR's name for the RDC I think (either them or Canadian National).

    Yes, they are all about the same idea. Hook a bunch together and put them underground, and you get a subway. Hook a bunch together above ground, and it's called LRT... hamr

    The Ottawa - Toronto flight is about the same (or worse, if you could not go to the Island Airport and had to go to Pearson :mad: ). Let's see -

    drive to airport - 20 to 60+ minutes
    wait 60+ minutes
    board - 30 minutes
    fly - 60 minutes
    deplane - 30 minutes
    ferry + taxi (Island only) - 30 minutes
    taxi to downtown - 60+ minutes

    Somewhere around 5 hours...!


    Drive to station - 10 - 30 minutes
    No waiting
    No real boarding time
    Travel to Toronto (downtown) - 3.5 to 4 hours
    Taxi at far end - 30 minutes

    Total - up to 5 hours... BUT!!

    Nice meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dinner in VIA1 (first class) includes wine and/or beer, three course meal plus chocolates after, plus after dinner drink(s). Power outlet for computer for work or watching DVD. Complementary newspaper. Room to stretch your legs. Nice scenery. Spacious (compared to the plane...!) washrooms.

    I love taking the train.

  5. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Doodlebugs could trail one or maybe two coaches, but I'm pretty sure RDCs can be MUed (Multiple Units) like modern diesel locos, while, to my knowledge, doodlebugs weren't capable of that.
  6. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    the Bachmann Spectrum is what im looking at getting, they sure dont look like something from the steam era. i was guessing 1950's to maybe early 1960's by the style of the car. but after reading the link gave to me i see that they was around back in 1910.

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    About 1959. Model Railroader had an article "MR rides a Doodlebug" on, I think, GM&O. It may be available in one of their reprint books.
  8. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    The "doodlebug" is a product of early twentieth century railroad ingenuity. They were generally used on light-density branches and sometimes carried trailing cars as well. They were not, however, particularly well suited to switching chores so what cars they did carry were for extra passenger or LCL/mail capacity. They generally were not equipped for multiple unit operation as the construction of most predated that concept. Instead they would pull an extra standard passenger car. I'm sure, however, there exists an exception to this rule somewhere. Most were out-of-service shortly after World War II as branchline passenger service had greatly declined by that period.

    RDCs, short for Rail Diesel Car, were a proprietary design from the Budd Company. They were sold to many different railroads in the post-WWII era. RDCs were generally used on lighter-density routes and on secondary passenger trains on mainlines. A few are still in service in North America, most rebuilt into non-powered passenger cars but some still in their original self-propelled configuration.


    The Model Railroader article referenced was reprinted in Railroads You Can Model (Kalmbach, 1976). It shows the GM&O's doodlebug operation from Bloomington, Illinois to Kansas City, Missouri, a rather long run by any standard.
  9. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok, i just got back from the LHS, i got an bachmann spectrum EMC gas electric doodlebug in the santa fe roadname.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    It is somehat surprising how far back the origins go for these kind of things.

    Canadian National's first experiments with diesel/oil electrics date back to about 1928! The units 9000/9001 date from that time. They did provide all the benefits of modern diesels, but for some reason CNR abandoned them in favour of steam (thank goodness... ;)). So an (economic) advantage they could have had more than 15 years before their competition was discarded in favour of status quo... In fact, CNR was among the last large railroads to run steam (up to winter/spring of 1959/60 in southern Ontario).

  11. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Seems to me that I just read recently about a rare double-ended doodlebug; but I'm sure they were not common. I do believe that they often pulled one or more trailing cars, usually a coach.

    RDC's on the other hand, were not designed to pull trailers (although some roads did that and voided the warranty). They were double-ended and could operate in both directions without turning.

    I never had any personal experience with a doodlebug, but I do recall riding RDCs when I was a teenager and rather enjoyed them. Among the few still operating are some in Syracuse, about 60 miles from me on "Ontrack", a local service running between downtown Syracuse, the Syracuse University campus and a large mall on the edge of town. The mall station is right near the Amtrak station, and there has been talk of extending the track the short distance to there, so that direct connections could be made. The last I knew, there was some problem about who would be responsible for a necessary highway crossing bridge between the two, which was holding up the process. The last time I was there, about a month ago, there were no indications of any progress.

    I'm sure this is more than you wanted to know, but the mention of RDCs got my tongue a wagging.
  12. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    One thing to keep in mind is that even the 1910 era doodlebugs were stealing an older idea--from electric interurban cars! They were powered by electric overhead or third rail (like subways and LRVs today) instead of carrying their own power plant. The modern interpretation of the doodlebug is called DLR, short for "Diesel Light Rail."
  13. jambo101

    jambo101 Member

    I remember calling those silver rdc"s "Bud cars" and cant remember why..
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    They would be Budd cars, after the manufacturer. ;)

  15. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I couldn't resist getting a Bachmann Spectrum doodlebug in Pennsey colors despite my Penn Central era theme. I run it as a fan trip special.
  16. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    is yours loud? mines way louder then any of my engines.

  17. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Yep, it whines, but I still like it. :)
  18. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok, i thought there was something wrong with mine. lol

  19. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Dave Flinn: You may be referring to the article in the April 2007 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, page 48. Walthers also has/had a short version of the doodlebug. They were used in low traffic areas in place of steam powered passenger trains. The RDC's came out in the early 1950's and were used into the 1990's in some areas. The PGand E (BC Rail) in British Columbia was still using them until recently. You Canadians probably know the popular name for the PGE.
  20. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Dave Flinn: You're probably thinking about the current (April) issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, page 48. Sorry about misspelling your name, Dave.

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